MARBLEHEAD – Board of Health member Michelle Gottlieb is keeping an eye on a major clean energy issue for the area, the City of Salem’s proposal to build a $4 million 382-foot wind turbine on Winter Island.
Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Salem Renewable Energy Task Force estimate the machine will generate 1.5 megawatts, which could supply the annual power needs of 300 to 400 average homes, paying for itself in about eight years and then saving the city around $590,000 a year in electricity costs. Once approved, construction could begin next summer and the turbine could be in operation by next fall.
An estimated 80 persons attended the city’s first meeting on the turbine at the Salem City Hall Annex Aug. 2 – and according to observers about 20 were from Marblehead, mostly in the Naugus Head area along West Shore Drive. The Marblehead group included some supporters of the project. Gottlieb was there to observe as well.
Opponents were the most vocal, however, and most of them expressed fears about turbine noise.
Gottlieb said she and her colleagues have already been approached by residents who fear noise pollution from the turbine, and residents may be approaching the Board of Selectmen as well. She said some in attendance at the meeting with experience with large turbine operation said noise was not an issue.
“People may ask us to weigh in,” she said, advising her colleagues to read up on the subject. “There’s a lot of emotion around this and we have to tread carefully. This is a Salem issue.”